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The #1 Reason Why Some Niche Sites Fail While Some Succeed

Maybe I am a slow learner but  for some reasons I seem to make a few mistakes over and over again! This is as true in life as it is in my online business. The mistake I am talking about is trying shortcut what I think should be one of the “laws” when it comes to building websites…always add value!

Having had the opportunity to work with a lot of people building successful and unsuccessful niche sites while at the same time building my own the path to success is very straightforward but not easy…

  1. On Page – Keep it simple with the site design, don’t over-optimize and most importantly ADD VALUE! Create content that truly helps the visitor.
  2. Off Page – Diverse backlinks including non spammy blog comments along with niche relevant & powerful PBN links

Most of number 1 is easy to do with WordPress and a logo from Fiver while #2 can be replicated or purchased. The difficult part is building a site that actually helps people solve the problem or answer the question they are coming to you for.

In my online business every site that has succeeded has had one thing (among others) in common…the content on the site truly added value! While a large number of sites that haven’t been as successful as I would like often had lower quality content that didn’t really “add value”.

Is Good Content Alone Enough?

LET ME BE CLEAR… I am not saying what a lot of the most popular SEO’s say “create good content and the rest will take care of itself” because I think for most of us that is BS. If you have a massive content budget and are playing a 2-3 year game then yes that pure white hat approach can work.

Although it is only one example my own case study site showed good content along was not enough.

In my case study I showed a site that had been ranking in the 50’s for its target keyword for almost a year with no promotion even though it most definitely answered the searchers query better than other sites.

All it took to push that one site up the rankings and to now be firmly at number 1 was a few powerful PBN backlinks (see full case study here).

Adding links at a rate of one per week has continued to push other higher traffic up the rankings as well.


How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank Number 1 in Google

Give Google What It Wants

Google is trying to rank the best content for a given keyword and so we should both give them what they want (the best content) and do what we can off page to signal to them that our content is the best (build quality links).

5 Ways to Create Truly Valuable Content

Saying “create quality content” is far easier then it actually is in practise! To create truly useful content it is not easy to outsource

  1. Round Up Post – This is my current favourite for niche sites because it can be outsourced. Here is a guide to creating a niche dominating round up post
  2. Video Tutorial – One option to create a truly helpful article is to create a video tutorial that helps solve your readers problems.
  3. Hire Staff Writer with Industry Knowledge – Hiring a writer and giving them a title is not enough to get a useful article created. The best way to get truly helpful articles created is to have someone with expertise write them. Not cheap or easy to pull off and very difficult to scale!
  4. Supplemental Tool – Is there a simple tool that can help solve the searchers problem? For example on my student loan site I created a student loan ROI calculator. Another example is my expired domain filtering software I give away for free on my epic expired domain and private blog network guide. Stay tuned for next weeks post where another helpful tool is going to be given away 😉
  5. Collect, Analyze or Assemble Data – Massive lists are another favourite way to create a truly helpful article that can easily be outsourced. Hiring a VA to go do research and then share it with readers is a great strategy to outsource the creation of a value added article. One example of this is pricing tables on Amazon affiliate sites or this list of Education Grants for Single Mothers which is ranking #2 in Google.

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Ferzy says June 23, 2014

I like to think at high quality content on your site as a long term link building strategy, because once you are number 1 in google, and you have quality content on your website, a lot of organic links will appear naturally to your website from other people linking to your content.

If your content is weak, then you constantly have to build new links to maintain your rankings and keep your edge over your competitors.

Of course, there is still the effort to getting to number 1, hence why link building is important and quality content is not enough.

But the best long term link building strategy seems to be to have quality content and be number 1 in google so people can find you and link to you.

Jason says June 23, 2014

Yes, agreed on #3. My best performing sites were written or edited by American writers with a passion for the niche. Even if you start with outsourced/cheap content, it pays off to have high ranking content edited once they’re ranking well.

It’s much easier to link build your site in the long run, if other people actually value your site and link to it naturally!

Tom says June 23, 2014

As your example shows, you can have the best content in the world but without the backlinks (or social power) to bring an audience, it’ll never rank above the big sites. Once you’ve got some content to the top, it’s much easier to bring people to the rest of your work, though.

Lewis says June 23, 2014

Number 4 & 5 are my ‘go to’ tactics for making my niche site content above par and add value. Most of the competition either don’t do these extra steps because they thing they are not needed or they just simply want to get the customer on the phone without providing too much information upfront.

The trouble is, we are in an information age and by providing those extra tools or resources that others don’t, you can ensure you have a linkable asset and something you are actually proud to promote.

– Lewis

    Jon Haver says July 1, 2014

    Thats a great point, were past the age, when people are overwhelmed with content are willing to jump in and take risks without knowing.

    Were in the age when people are willing to put in the effort to find out exactly what their into to and how to get the best bang for their buck.

scott says June 23, 2014

I agree adding value is key. The only way you will know if you are adding value is if you truly know the niche. For me, that is finance, investments, insurance and the upstream oil and gas business. When I step outside of my comfort zone, I need to make sure the writer actually knows what he is talking about.

The white hat purists have obviously never tried to rank a site with “great” content as you did in your study Jon!

    Jon Haver says July 1, 2014

    It is always great to have a breadth of knowledge within your niche. This will defiantly help with your content. Especially if your hiring VA`s or doing the writing yourself.

Alistair Cochrane says June 23, 2014

I agree Jon. Good, helpful pages increase your user engagement which is supposedly a ranking signal for google and of course engaged visitors convert better.

As an added bonus, with valuable content it’s a lot easier to create natural looking links from your PBN. And this helps protect your PBN for the longer term.

Also a non spammy looking domain name for your money site helps with this too. It’s alot easier to make a natural looking link to a site like than it is to make a link to a site about

People write lots of lists about how to hide your PBN, for me the top of the list should be adding value on the PBN. With so much value everywhere Google will never discover your evil plan! 😉

Al-Amin Kabir says June 23, 2014

Thanks for another amazing post, Jon. Starting a new niche site next month, hope your guideline will help me!

    Jon Haver says July 1, 2014

    Best of luck.

Calin says June 24, 2014

I was one of those guys who believed that adding great content is enough and to a point and a very limited number of websites, that is still the case. But for the rest of 99% of the websites, great content is not enough. Links are as important as ever and more difficult to get than ever. Getting white hat links might never happen depending on your niche, so everybody should indeed focus on building them. But it’s true – without great content, you’re building them for nothing!

    Jon Haver says July 1, 2014

    Very great point.

    Hope those white hat links start coming along for you .

Nauf Sid says June 24, 2014

Jon, I agree with you. I am a grey hat as well but excellent content does score you links and major press if you do it right.

I Would like to know how are you developing these niche specific supplemental tools?

Quinton says June 27, 2014

And content is finally playing a bigger role in rankings. The “audition” process — where Google ranks a page for a lot of long tail terms and measures bounce rate — seems to becoming less of a myth and more of a reality in my experience.

Plus, with enough long tail terms included, I am now seeing some of my sites realize 5x and 6x the monthly traffic listed in the Keyword Planner tool, and I know others in the industry are seeing a similar phenomena.

    Jon Haver says July 1, 2014

    Great to hear.

    Keep it going.

Roland Zongo says July 5, 2014

wonderful article,i love your website.first visit and i can already feel that it is full of awesome value.I am going to be analysing every bit of information.
PS:i have a website in foreign contry with wonderful value as wll but i am not even in the 500 results.As you said content is not everything.

    Jon Haver says August 2, 2014

    Very True

    Thank you

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